I specialize in reviewing Print-On-Demand (POD) published books for my website and Midwest Book Review. Please query for a review by email to hgunther234@hotmail.com.

Friday, December 23, 2011

THE FURNACE - A Locked Room SF Mystery by Timothy S. Johnston

Genre: Science Fiction Mystery
Rating: Very Good
ISBN: 9781466276659, $14.99, 390 pp.

Quoting from the back cover:

“As a Homicide Investigator working the solar system’s most remote outposts, Lieutenant Kyle Tanner has been involved in more criminal investigations and captures than any other in Security Division. He hunts his prey stealthily, tracking them through the trail of victims cast behind, and makes difficult captures when no one else can. He has seen the twisted remains, things that used to be human but are now barely meat. And he’s executed those who have done such horrible deeds.

“His most recent case takes him to SOLEX One, a power-generating station that orbits precariously near the Sun. Among the fifteen inhabitants is a killer, a disturbed crewman who for some reason has mutilated his victim. But when Tanner arrives and begins the investigation, he’s shocked to learn that this is no ordinary murder. There appears to be no motive for the crime, and no reason for the mutilation after death. But what Tanner doesn’t realize is that something terrifying is amplifying among the station’s personnel...and if he doesn’t solve the mystery, the result could be the extinction of the human race.

The Furnace is a locked-room murder mystery, part techno-thriller, part horror, part detective story. Ardath Mayhar, author of over sixty novels, says, ‘This is a book of great tension, powerful characterization, and gripping action...Completely original and compelling. A must read.’”

I say, “Job well done.”

The Furnace is beautifully written and well edited.. definitely a page turner. Timothy Johnston is a gifted writer and has created a suspense-filled, SF mystery thriller with a little romance at the edge. The cover art by Nelson Housden is appropriate and integral to the story. The opening will grab you and hold you to the finish. Yes, I can recommend The Furnace.

Kaye Trout - December 23, 2011

Saturday, December 17, 2011

KODACHROME by Jason Jahns

North Star Books
Genre: Fiction
Rating: Unusual
ISBN: 9780984749102, $12.99, 340 pp.

Quoting from the back cover:

“A global revolution cuts across cultural, economic, and geographic divides; it is an epic conflict between the forces of rampant greed and demands for fairness and dignity.

“Our two heroes are extraordinary yet solitary–reluctant warriors who never meet. Miranda Carter is a cloistered graduate student dispatched to meet her estranged Mormon grandmother and examine a bizarre medical prognosis. Zhuli Cai is an unassuming young Chinese army officer willing to give everything to save the members of his unit. He hold a heavy secret.

“Miranda and Zhuli are thrown headlong into technological and supernatural intrigue and deceit. They reckon with true impossibilities and face their own worst fears in a world of double-crosses, prophets, spies, presidential candidates, and Chinese revolutionaries.

“On its way to a truly surprise ending, Kodachrome will beguile you with thriller-like tempo, the foresight of science fiction, deep social truths normally found only in histories, and a plot that you have never seen before–anywhere.”

Kodachrome is, indeed, a most unusual novel; however, it did not capture my interest, and I found it hard going...hard to follow along. The two separate stories within the novel should not have been a problem, but I didn’t connect with either. I don’t think I can put into words where the problem lies because I’m not quite sure. When you open a new book, you hope to connect in some way and allow the author to take you on a trip, to entertain or to educate. That just did not happen for me, but it may happen for you–we all have different tastes. On the positive side, Kodachrome is well written and well edited.

If the promo on the back cover stirs your curiosity, and you want to decide for yourself, give it a read--the price is reasonable.

Kaye Trout December 17, 2011

Thursday, December 15, 2011

DARKMAGE by M. L. Spencer

Stoneguard Publications
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: Very Good
ISBN: 9780615567983, $12.99, 560 pp.

Quoting of the back cover:

“The Well of Tears is open and the terror of the night has been unleashed. Now, the last Sentinel left alive with the power to defend his world against the minions of the Netherworld is a man destined to be corrupted into the image of what he hates. In the name of duty, Darien Lauchlin will see oaths forsaken, crowns toppled, friends sacrificed and the land he loves descrated. For there is a very thin line between duty...and brutalinhumanity.

“”A beautifully written tale that challenges our convictions of right and wrong.”“

Darkmage is quite the quintessential fantasy tale, and I agree, beautifully written. If you’re a fantasy fan, I can wholeheartedly recommend this epic tale. I am not particularly fond of fantasy myself but the quality of writing is worth the read. Darkmage is well written and well edited.

M. L Spencer is a consummate writer with a special gift for descriptive writing which flows smoothly and carries you right along.

Kaye Trout December 15, 2011

Monday, December 05, 2011

THE IDIOT, I Was a Lunatic from a Geordie Grangetown by David Poulter

Genre: Memoir
Rating: Very Good
ISBN9781849912105, $18,00, 118 pp.

Quoting from the back cover:

“ “This world that you inhabit is really only your own mind. That is where you truly reside. And everyday you make decisions that affect your life. I give you an account of mine.”

“This strange and thought-provoking story is about a man who experiences a traumatic event in his childhood and then later develops a peculiar condition in his thirties. His experiences and ‘delusions’ lead him to think that he may have discovered a great secret that concerns all of humanity. Is he sane? And is the world crazy? Here is a conundrum that you can decide for yourself.”

The Idiot is a very unusual story/memoir. It is well written and well edited and most unique. You never really know where the author will take you next. There are elements of truth woven deeply through the fabric of Poulter’s trials and tribulations, and you sense real honesty here.

Allow me to share a section of his writing with you from page 115.

“There are many forms of the truth, we each have our own version and sometimes with hindsight and experience that may change as well. I understand now that perhaps I was just as delusional and paranoid before the onset of the schizophrenia. There tends to be a before and after syndrome with a disorder like this, yet I am essentially the same person. And like anyone who is honest with themselves I can look back and see the past for what it truly was. Maybe this condition has even given me an advantage. The garden was indeed an expression of myself, but no more than that, a book, or a painting, an experiment, an idea. A love no doubt, but also an excuse, a distraction, occasionally a lie and sometimes a failure.

“The land was certainly bewitching. I’m still haunted by its beauty, but even so this obsession translated into disregard for other matters. The upbringing of the children and their welfare were equal to my care for chickens and ducks, my wife was no more than an old horse put out to grass. I have nothing to say on these issues, I have no long descriptions of events or character assessments, conversations or otherwise. This document is about me and my life, how I acted and how I choose not to get involved anymore. Attaching oneself to people out of habit and insecurity is a stupidity. Whether karma exists or not I look back on the past and know for certain my arrogance, mistakes and fantasied led to others’ downfalls and unhappiness. I know now I am not normal, I am certain I have brain damage and the usual emotional responses are lacking. I am a vacuum and was before, perhaps the emotional center of my brain simply does not function properly. I don’t know and I will never find out the truth and I don’t care. I watch out for myself and my strange new companion. I tend to live in the moment, my mind picking up visual info, sensations and the voices. I keep in touch with my father now, he is over eighty and keen to talk on the phone. I have no hatred or malice for him. What I was told I choose to overlook, maybe it was an accident, perhaps it was congenital. With madness it is hard to trust any feelings.”

It is the honesty and quality of writing that make The Idiot a unique book worth reading. Highly recommended.

Kaye Trout 12/5/2011